Transcendental Music – Our Playlist

Here are the songs that various groups have connected with the Romantic poetry we have been analyzing. Feel free to post your own connections and analysis here — and I’ll add your song to the playlist.

Our Music Poetry Playlist!

Enjoy, and don’t forget to present a defense of your poetic song on the blog — and leave comments on your classmates’ posts.


Welcome to the blog for our AP Lit class. It is the space in which we will continue conversations from class and start new ones. We’ll be discussing and debating literary conundrums and so much more. We might even see a little poetry.

So, what’s a blog? And how will we be using it class? For information on blogging and how to join and post to our blog, see “All About Blogging.”

We’re looking forward to a great year.

Make sure you check your e-mail for your invitation to join the blog. Also – and this is very important – the first step you should take after you accept the invitation is to edit your user profile so that you control how your identity and your communication preferences.  Click on the icon in the upper right corner of the browser and edit your profile

You can fill out as much of it as you want, but the only requirement is — under “Identity” — make sure your “Display name” is your first name and last initial only — so we provide some anonymity while still allowing your classmates and teacher to be able to identity who you are. For example, change “Bernie Heidkamp” to “Bernie H.”

The Old Blog is Dead! Long Live the Old Blog!

For many years, we used the Blogger platform for the AP Lit blog. Since it is owned by Google, it integrates pretty seamlessly with your Google accounts — which made it easy to use, in some respects — but it is a very limited and bug-ridden platform. So this year, we have decided to construct a new class blog from scratch using the most more powerful and stable WordPress platform.

If you are interested, though, in seeing what past AP Lit students have been thinking and writing about, feel free to wander over to the old blog.

old blog

My Grandma Just Died, and I Can Only Blame Myself

by Charles Dear

Imagine that your closest relative has just passed away. What do you do? What should you feel? The song “Helena” by American scene band My Chemical Romance is lead singer Gerard Way’s tribute to his late grandmother, and is a perfect encapsulation of all the raw feelings that arise in mourning. This song is part of the album Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge, which is a concept album about two lovers who die. One of them runs into the devil after death, who promises that the two can be together again if he receives the souls of 1,000 evil men. Now, this song does not assume the same vengeful tone as the rest of the album, and deals in pure fact rather than Way’s creation. It is the opening track on the album. I think Way did that strategically, putting his painful experiences with death as a lead-off.

As much as this album works as a whole, I feel that “Helena” stands out. Way describes the song this way, “It’s about why I wasn’t around for this woman who was so special to me, why I wasn’t there for the last year of her life…an angry open letter to myself.” He was also a heavy drinker during this period. The best representation of this mentality is in the chorus. It is a simple four-liner: (“What’s the worst thing I can say/Things are better if I stay/So long and goodnight/So long and goodnight”). Anyway, it is evident that Way is caught between staying around and moving on in the wake of his grandmother’s death. He chooses the latter because he can’t say anything, and dislikes himself for it. I would like to expand on the “So long and goodnight” line on its own as well. It is in parentheticals in some versions of the song. As such, I would contend it is its most important line. Humans do not say “So long and goodnight” to each other. Each phrase on its own, yes, but together it seems too ominous and serves to illustrate the damning finality of death.

The pre-chorus also touches on Way’s loathing. It runs thusly: (“And what’s the worst you take/from every heart you break?/And like the blade you stain/Well I’ve been holding on tonight”). Way’s drinking problem is upsetting his family. Simultaneously, he has just been holding on to his life and sanity in the wake of such a tragedy. Since the format of the song is a letter to himself, the “you” and “I” in the pre-chorus refer to the same person.

I love how touching and poignant this song is. It is very hard to cope with the death of a loved one, but Gerard Way does just that in this song, with a delivery that is emotional but not effusive.

What Do Children Owe Their Parents? Retirement and Family Expectations

by McKale Thompson

In King Lear, Lear expects his daughters to respect and take care of him after he relinquishes power. Why does he expect this? Lear believes that because he was king, he raised his daughters, and gave them a good life, it is their responsibility to repay the favor. However, it could be argued that his daughters did ask him for his support and they did not ask to be princesses…So do they really owe him?

In an article from Pew Research Center on social and demographic trends surrounding aging parents, they state that in America, 58% of people have helped their elderly parents with household work, errands, or home repairs in the last 12 months. In Germany and Italy, the percentage is closer to 70%. In another study, they conclude that in America, Germany, and Italy 84-88% of people say that taking care of their parents is a rewarding experience and 64-83% of people also say the experience is stressful. All of this data would lead one to believe that taking care of your elderly parents is something that is widely accepted. Most people even find it rewarding so, why are Reagan and Goneril so stuck up toward their father?

In King Lear specifically, Lear is not characterized as a compassionate person. Within his interactions with Cordelia and Kent just within the first scene, the reader understands that he isn’t very understanding of others or what love and loyalty really is. This makes it possible that Reagan and Goneril just dislike their father and do not feel close enough to him to have him around. But, another possibility is gender roles and their involvement in this dynamic. 

Pew Research Center’s article concluded by explaining some disparities between the opinions of daughters and sons on whether or not caring for a parent is overwhelming. The article states, “About one-in-ten (11%) American women with a parent 65 or older feel this way, compared with 4% of American men. Among Germans with an aging parent, 15% of women feel that they are expected to do too much, while just 6% of men do.” So, even though it is agreed that Reagan and Goneril are not great people, it is worth noting that as women charged with the responsibility of taking care of their father, another factor could be that they are afraid of the pressure and expectations that come from becoming a caregiver and being in charge of their father.

Power, Madness, and Identity

by Maya L

In King Lear, the characters’ desires for power shape everything they do, including how they see themselves. Lear, for instance, bases all of his worth on how much power he has, so he doesn’t know how to handle it when he loses his power. When his daughters insist he only have what he needs, he argues that that makes him no better than an animal. It’s made clear that he believes the powerless aren’t deserving of respect, and so the realization that others have lost their respect for him comes alongside the realization of how much power he’s lost. Since he equates his power to his humanity, he then leads himself to believe that he’s losing his humanity, and he starts to go mad.

The way I view his madness is that it resulted from his belief that he was going mad. He believed himself to be losing all that made him worthy and human, and so he let himself lose his mind as well. I find it fascinating how his attachment to power and station is what hurt him the most, not the betrayal of his daughters. I believe that he wouldn’t have fallen so hard from the betrayal had he valued more important things, such as his relationship with Cordelia. If he had focused on the important things in life, he wouldn’t have felt as if he had lost so much, and certainly not like he had lost his humanity. Lear is an example of how the priorities of most of the characters seem to be misplaced, and that only seems to hurt them in the end.

It Doesn’t Matter Anyway

by Jasmine W

King Lear operates on several complex levels in both its literary and thematic message. While the story and its characters’ actions all have a lot to say about the larger meanings of life, I found it very interesting to also witness a little bit of an ode to life’s simplicity as I followed along. As Gloucester famously states, “As flies to wanton boys are we to th’ gods; They kill us for their sport” (IV.i.41-42). When drawn in by the tragic plot full of betrayal, death, and irony, it is easy to forget about the story’s relation to the rest of the world. In retrospect, however, each and every one of the characters and our lives does not matter. Regardless of what happens to us, life and time move on.

It is here where a connection can be drawn between Shakespeare’s King Lear and Albert Camus’ The Stranger, which we read earlier in the year. In fact, I think almost any work of fiction can be viewed in part through and existentialist lens; nuanced reminders of just how insignificant human life is are present everywhere. That being said, I am a firm believer that the meaning of our life can only be determined by us, and dwelling on its insignificance in the face of eternity does not help anything. (But if that’s what you want to do, by all means, go for it.) If you make a mistake, it should be deemed that by yourself, and not by society’s standards.

Upon reflection, I find it thoroughly amusing that a play as tacky (in my opinion) as King Lear can raise such philosophical questions such as the meaning of life.

Our Music Poetry Playlist!

I’ve combined all of my three sections of AP Lit — so it’s a broad as well as deep collection. Right now it’s just in artist alphabetical order (Mac Miller runs away with the Most Songs award with 5!), so shuffle if you want a more creative mix.

You have impressed me with the diversity of genre as well as including many artists I just do not know (and I listen to a lot of music — or so I thought!).

Thank you. This is the only end-of-2020 present I really wanted 🙂

“Let Her Go”

by Jasmine Wood

Released by English singer-songwriter Passenger (Mike Rossenberg) in July 2012 as part of his album All the Little Things, “Let Her Go” tells the melancholy story of a brokenhearted man who is struggling to come to terms with the end of his relationship. As a folk rock hit single, “Let Her Go” exemplifies Passenger’s simple yet effective language and emotive storytelling technique.

The song itself utilizes oppositional irony and specific scenes to spread the message that it is important to appreciate relationships and people before they are gone and it is too late. Through the speaker’s obvious pain, the audience is able to emotionally connect to his struggle.

Throughout the entire song, the speaker references general experiences that everyone listening knows. For example, the song opens with the lines, “Well you only need the light when it’s burning low/ Only miss the sun when it starts to snow.” Stating examples that are impossible to not know, Passenger creates a situation to which everyone can relate, and sets up his message in a way that is easily receivable. Furthermore, by using the word “you” repetitively in his lines, the speaker builds a connection with his listeners by speaking directly to them, even though he is really referring to his own experience.

Next, the speaker shares his specific experiences in dealing with the aftermath of the breakup. One verse states,

Staring at the ceiling in the dark 
Same old empty feeling in your heart
'Cause love comes slow and it goes so fast
Well you see her when you fall asleep
Never to touch and never to keep
'Cause you loved her too much and dive too deep

While not everyone might have lain awake at night depressed after a break up, the specificity of this instance allows the audience to picture the speaker doing so, and in turn feel empathy for him. As a result, the speaker is further characterized as a miserable person who is suffering because of his actions (or lack thereof). Thus, the audience gets a glimpse of what their future will be like if they do not take heed to his message.

Another tool Passenger utilizes is repetition. In fact, the majority of the song’s lyrics is actually just the chorus that is repeated five times. While not the most important literary technique, this repetition does serve to emphasize the message for the audience:

Well you only need the light when it's burning low
Only miss the sun when it starts to snow
Only know you love her when you let her go
Only know you've been high when you're feeling low
Only hate the road when you're missing home
Only know you love her when you let her go
And you let her go

Lastly and perhaps most importantly, Passenger’s use of oppositional irony is what makes this song so compelling. By providing specific examples of the irony of not realizing something’s importance until it is gone, he further emphasizes the importance of valuing what one has. For example, he says, “Only know you’ve been high when you’re feeling low/ Only hate the road when you’re missing home.” Not only does this add unique wit to the song, but it also strengthens the overall message as it builds up to the final example, “Only know you love her when you let her go,” which is what he is really trying to say.

Overall, Passenger masterfully weaves together relatable anecdotes and emotive language to ensure that his audience receives his message to keep loved ones close. It is in this way the “Let Her Go” is both a poem and a song.

Embarrassing Honesty

by Mckale Thompson

In J. Cole’s song “Wet Dreamz” from his album 2014 Forest Hills Drive, he dives deeper into his first sexual experience. The song flows like a narrative beginning when Cole meets the girl, all of the way to when he ends up at her house. The listener gets inside information into Cole’s emotions every step of the way, his seemingly embarrassing honesty builds trust with the listener causing them to be invested in Cole’s journey throughout the song. But, why does Cole’s narrative come off as taboo when he’s talking about an experience that the majority of people have at some point in their lives? Cole uses poetic language to cause the listener to feel like they have privileged information about his first sexual encounter and draw them into his narrative.

Let me take y'all back man
As I do so well
Wasn't nothin' like that
Man, it wasn't nothin' like that first time

At the beginning of the song, Cole utilizes flashback to transport the listener to a different time. By beginning the song with a flashback the listener is immediately curious about where they are being taken, this prepares the listener to hear an important story. By addressing the listener as “y’all” the listener feels as if they are sitting across from an old friend with gossip. The use of 2nd person also ropes the listener into Cole’s narrative.

'Cause when I seen 'em thighs on her and them hips on her and them lips on her

Cole goes on to describe the appearance of the girl that he is interested in. By using polysyndeton, the reader is able to understand the ongoing attraction that Cole has. The continued use of “and” makes the listener feel that list goes on for longer than it really does. This draws the listener further into Cole’s narrative because she is no longer just a girl, she is an extremely attractive girl according to Cole’s account.

I wrote back and said "of course I had sex before"
Knowing I was frontin'
I said I was like a pro baby
Knowing I was stuntin'
But if I told the truth I knew I'd get played out son

Cole uses dramatic irony to add suspense to his story. He first explains what he said in reality, and then in the next line reveals his real thoughts about the situation. By letting the listener know that he really had no experience while he told the girl that he did, the reader is curious if he’ll be made as a fraud. He even reveals the stakes of his lie saying, “But if I told the truth I knew I’d get played out” meaning that if he was to be exposed as inexperienced he would be ostracized by his peers. Cole uses poetic language to create an unforgettable story, that also happens to have a pretty catchy hook.

Why Did Hamid Need Magic Doors?

by McKale Thompson

In Exit West, author Mohsin Hamid utilizes magical doors to forgo an explanation of how the characters arrived in their new location. Hamid explained in a reading of his book that the doors help to focus the reader on the location and take away the need for a long, difficult, migration story. But, why did Hamid feel that including a long migration would dilute the real theme of his novel?

My grandparents immigrated to America around the early ’70s, but when my Grandmother discuss their early days in America she never starts her story with how she got here. Could her reason be the same as Hamid’s. The primary narrative of migration is the difficult journey from one place to another especially as a refugee seeking asylum. The media focuses on these difficult journeys to gain sympathy for migrants because otherwise non-migrant people diminish their stories. In countries, like America, that provide asylum seekers with a home, the narrative around migrant populations is that they somehow are taking advantage of the opportunities that the non-migrant residents have earned access to. This narrative is harmful because it makes it difficult for migrant people to find stability in a new country and create the foundation they need to start anew.

When my grandmother came to the United States she was discriminated against by Black people, White people, really anyone who believed they had more claim to opportunities in America because they identified as American. So, the media tries to soften the hearts of non-migrant people by covering the difficult often unbearable journeys of migrants, this, however, is not a solution. By reinforcing how difficult the lives of migrant people are, it allows non-migrants to exclude them and maintain power over them. In Jessica Benjamin’s theory of mutual recognition, she explains how binaries create power imbalances. In this case, there are Non-Migrants and Migrants, and non-migrants people reinforce their power over migrant people by pitying them. Mutual recognition between Migrant and Non-Migrant people would require people to realize that their seemingly stable environment could be destroyed within weeks, and they could be in the same situation as the people who they pity and separate themselves from.

In the case of Exit West, Hamid’s use of doors instead of telling a migration story helps the reader to combat this bias against those who have difficult journeys to safety and realize that just like Nadia and Saeed their normalcy is fragile.

On Migration: Time

by Jasmine Wood

Hamid’s level of detail on the smaller, more specific events and interactions of his characters in his novel Exit West creates a relatability to which his readers connect, despite the overarching circumstance of violence and conflict and resulting refugee crisis. While it is clear the novel’s attitude toward global change and immigrants is targeted mostly towards an audience far removed from the experiences of its characters, there is an equally important message of finding unity and respect despite cultural differences. The most readily example would be Nadia and Saeed’s lives early on before their city fell apart. They had movie theaters and cell phones and social media and hallucinogenic drugs – all things that almost every reader can relate to. And so, Hamid effectively bolsters his novel’s theme with subliminable connections that are impossible for his readers to deny.

However, another way Hamid unites his audience is through his writing’s attitude toward change. Even though the change in Nadia and Saeed’s lives is very different than, say, the old woman’s, the author still manages to connect them through the mode of time. Throughout the entire story, the author constantly uses phrases such as “back then” and “in those days.” Consequently, he reflects on his characters’ experiences on a scale of time – past, present, future. Similarly, he utilizes the same phrasing when discussing the personal changes of supporting characters, such as the old woman and her house in Palo Alto. Thus, readers make a connection between the larger global changes and smaller personal changes because both of them are framed as ‘before’ or ‘after’ or ‘now’ or ‘today’ or ‘back then’ or ‘in those days.’ So it is on this level, too, that readers are able to relate to people seemingly a world away. After all, in Hamid’s words, “We are all migrants through time.”

Discussing “Sonny’s Blues”

Use the comment section for this post to engage in a discussion of James Baldwin’s short story “Sonny’s Blues.”

To see your requirements and parameters for our discussion, see our Reading/Discussing Short Stories guidelines. Strive for a vigorous exchange, including debating differing interpretations, but always strive for mutual recognition of each other, working toward enhancing our collective understanding of the story.

Watch your period’s group presentation on the story and see the DQs below, if you are looking for inspiration.

period 1
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  • A lot of the story takes place with characters on the move, whether this is on the subway, in a taxi, world travel, or walking the streets. What could this constant motion symbolize?
  • Do you think the narrator sees potential in the boys he teaches or only sees their potentially rough futures?
  • After leaving work, the narrator runs into one of Sonny’s old friends. What do you think this interaction symbolizes?
  • There are short references to music scattered throughout the story, what do these inclusions add to the meaning of the story?
  • Do you think that the narrator truly cares for his brother’s well being or is only in his life because of a moral family obligation?

period 2
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  • How does the narrator deal with his suffering?
  • Will Sonny relapse and start using drugs again?
  • If everyone suffers and deals with their suffering individually, then is all expression an expression of suffering?
  • Why do those who grew up in darkness and suffer because of it raise their children in the same darkness?
  • How does Sonny and the narrator’s fraternal relationship affect their interactions and issues?

period 3
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  • What do you think caused Sonny to start using drugs?
  • What does the music being played symbolize at the end of the story?
  • How does Grace dying have an impact on Sonny and the rest of the story?
  • Do you think the story would be different if told from a different perspective?
  • What is the correlation between the drink Sonny receives at the end of the story and his life?

Discussing “Barn Burning”

Use the comment section for this post to engage in a discussion of William Faulkner’s short story “Barn Burning.”

To see your requirements and parameters for our discussion, see our Reading/Discussing Short Stories guidelines. Strive for a vigorous exchange, including debating differing interpretations, but always strive for mutual recognition of each other, working toward enhancing our collective understanding of the story.

Watch your period’s group presentation on the story and see the DQs below, if you are looking for inspiration.

period 1
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  • What’s the significance of the final line in the story?
  • Considering he liked setting fires, why did Abner Snopes build such small fires on regular nights?
  • What was Abner Snopes’ real involvement in the war? What does this mean about him? About his son’s view of him?
  • What does Abner Snopes ruining the de Spains’ rug symbolize?
  • Why does Faulkner continuously compare Abner Snopes to tin?

period 2
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  • Consider the father’s relationship with wealth. His approach to the war seemed to indicate greed and materialism, yet his treatment of de Spain’s carpet points to a resentment of wealth. Do you think the father desires wealth? Why or why not? What other priorities interact with his desire for wealth, or lack therefore?
  • While the battle between “blood” and “law” is one that permeates the entire story, the narrator has a clear shift between taking a beating for his family’s honor in the beginning and betraying his father in the end. What might have caused this shift?
  • Faulkner opens the story with a description of the first court’s smell of cheese, filling the rest of the paragraph and even page with vivid descriptions of food and other sensory images that may seem tangential to the story. What purpose do these sensory descriptions serve?
  • When Colonel Sartoris and his father come across the de Spain’s house, the boy is awestruck and forgets about most everything else. What does this reveal about Colonel Sartoris’s views of the world? His relationship & similarities/differences with his father?

period 3
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  • Why was the son named Colonel Sartoris?
  • Why did Abner Snopes lie about his role in the Civil War?
  • Why did the father believe Colonel Sartoris Snopes would have told the judge? Why does he lie about his intentions even though he was not going to tell the judge what his father did?
  • Why does Colonel Sartoris Snopes decide to run?
  • In the end of “ Barn Burning” does Colonel Sartoris regret his decision to run?

Discussing “The Elephant Vanishes”

Use the comment section for this post to engage in a discussion of Haruki Murakami’s short story “The Elephant Vanishes.”

To see your requirements and parameters for our discussion, see our Reading/Discussing Short Stories guidelines. Strive for a vigorous exchange, including debating differing interpretations, but always strive for mutual recognition of each other, working toward enhancing our collective understanding of the story.

Watch your period’s group presentation on the story and see the DQs below, if you are looking for inspiration.

period 1
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period 2
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  • Can we really trust the words of the narrator?
  • What does the relationship between the Elephant and Zookeeper represent?
  • What really happened to the elephant at the end of the story?
  • What happened to the narrator’s “balance” since the elephant’s disappearance?
  • What does the story say about the relationship between balance and unity?

period 3
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  • How does the relationship between the zookeeper and the elephant contribute to the story? And how does their relationship contrast that of the zookeeper and other kids visiting the zoo?
  • How does the narrator’s conversation with the magazine editor woman alienate himself from both her and society?
  • What does the elephant symbolize?
  • The ending is very abrupt and does not solve the problem. Why do you think the author ends the story like this? And how is this a reflection of the narrator’s perspective?
  • What does the elephant represent to the narrator? What does the elephant represent in society?

Discussing “Secret Woman”

Use the comment section for this post to engage in a discussion of Colette’s short story “Secret Woman.”

To see your requirements and parameters for our discussion, see our Reading/Discussing Short Stories guidelines. Strive for a vigorous exchange, including debating differing interpretations, but always strive for mutual recognition of each other, working toward enhancing our collective understanding of the story.

Watch your period’s group presentation on the story and see the DQs below, if you are looking for inspiration.

period 1
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  • What purpose does the continual usage of colors and descriptions of the costumes serve in the story other than just simply describing disguises?
  • Why do you think they both lied to each other?
  • Who do you think is more in the wrong in this situation? The husband or the wife?
  • Do you think the husband’s “decision” on what she’s doing is accurate?
  • Do you think he should’ve told her or continued the one sided secrecy?

period 2
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  • Why do you think Irene said she did not want to go to the opera ball but still ended up going?
  • What do you think Colette is trying to say about Irene when she calls her a “pierrot”?
  • Why do you think that the husband never confronted his wife?
  • Do you think the wife knows that her husband has been spying on her?
  • What are some power relationships in this text?

period 3
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Discussing “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings”

Use the comment section for this post to engage in a discussion of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’ short story “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings.”

To see your requirements and parameters for our discussion, see our Reading/Discussing Short Stories guidelines. Strive for a vigorous exchange, including debating differing interpretations, but always strive for mutual recognition of each other, working toward enhancing our collective understanding of the story.

Watch your period’s group presentation on the story and see the DQs below, if you are looking for inspiration.

period 1
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  • In the short story, there are characters who believe that the man with wings is an angel and characters who do not. Do you think the man is an angel?
  • How is this magical world Marques has created reflective of modern society? Is she trying to highlight how people would treat a holy figure if it were present in our world today?
  • When the angel gets the chicken pox, the doctor listens to his heart. What do you think the whistling in his heart and sounds in his kidneys is? Also, chicken pox is usually a sickness kids get, and the angel is a very old man. What does this say about the angel?
  • The man is finally able to fly away at the end of the story. Do you think the family whom he stayed with was more helpful or hurtful? Did they help him recover, or make his recovery time longer?
  • In the story, it is stated that a woman who disobeyed her parents was turned into a spider as punishment. In many cultures, spiders symbolize an increase of awareness. Do you think that Marquez kept this in mind when she decided to turn the woman into a spider? If not, why do you think she chose that specific insect?

period 2
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  • How would the story be different if the Very Old Man had been a Very Little Baby?
  • What impact does the combination of magical and ordinary details have on the reader?
  • In the story why do they choose to include another supernatural creature in a spider person?
  • How did the old man with enormous wings gain enough strength to fly out of the coup?

period 3
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  • What do you think the crabs may symbolize?
  • Do you think that religion had a major influence over the story and the belief among the people in the story?
  • Why do you think that the couple mistreated the angel and had much antipathy towards him?
  • Do you think that the old man with wings was an angel, a literal man who had wings, or something else?
  • Why do you think that the old man with wings leaves at the end of the story? How was he able to flourish after being really run down?

Discussing “Bloodchild”

Use the comment section for this post to engage in a discussion of Octavia Butler’s short story “Bloodchild.”

To see your requirements and parameters for our discussion, see our Reading/Discussing Short Stories guidelines. Strive for a vigorous exchange, including debating differing interpretations, but always strive for mutual recognition of each other, working toward enhancing our collective understanding of the story.

Watch your period’s group presentation on the story and see the DQs below, if you are looking for inspiration.

period 1
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  • What binaries are created through the dependence of the Terrans on T’Gatoi? How are they created?
  • What are some parallels you can find between the Preserve and the role of T’Gatoi in their home? What rhetoric does Octavia Butler use to portray these parallels?
  • To what extension is this a story about self-sacrifice and familial bonds?
  • One of the main themes of the story is the interdependence of two very different species. What is an example of a similar interdependence in your own life?
  • On page 28 and 29, Gan responds to T’Gatoi’s statement about protecting terrans by saying,“‘ Not protected,’ I said. ‘Shown. Shown when we’re young kids, and shown more than once.’” To what extent do you agree with Gan’s statement? Can this same sentiment be applied to our education system and how we expose kids to the evils of the world?

period 2
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  • What type of planet do you think they live on? What do you think the land/environment looks like?
  • What would you do if put in the same position as Gan? Would you fufill your “duty” even if you personally did not want to?
  • Would you trust someone who took care of you like Qui, his brother or a someone like T’Gatoi?
  • Have you had a person in your life that is as selfless as Gan and Gan’s mother?
  • How important is family to you?

period 3
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  • How could humans come to be dominated by this species?
  • Why do the aliens have such human personalities and why do some have so much empathy for the humans?
  • Does the mother refusing the eggs imply that she wants to die?
  • Is the preserve the only place where humans are living or do they exist in other parts of this world?